It's a slap in the face to conventional wisdom but it turns out that there is plenty of entertainment available in Dubai for next to nothing.
The frugalista's weekend
They say that money makes the world go around, so what's a girl to do in an economic crisis that leaves her Louis Vuitton purse empty and means that she must tighten her Marni belt? She sets out on a money-saving mission to find fun for free, that's what. Instead of stamping my foot at the unfairness of my personal financial meltdown, I'm embracing the credit crunch like a true frugalista.
I know what you're thinking: How do you have fun in a city where wallets generally haemorrhage cash? The answer is to be creative and make it yourself. So last week I kick-started my thrifty mission with a touch of culture: an hour-long tour of Jumeirah mosque. It was educational and entertaining and at just Dh10, practically gratis. Credit crunch 0, Frugalista 1. Next stop, The Lime Tree Café - not the cheapest of eats on Dubai's dining map but with portions vast enough to feed an army, dinner was no longer required. Credit crunch 0, Frugalista 2.
Then, with the mercury dropping in the late afternoon, I hit the beach for two hours of sunset swimming. Cost? Zilch On Saturday I ambled around Old Town and held a balcony barbecue chez moi. Since I threw in a gentle request for guests to bring their own food (totally de rigueur these days), it was an evening any frugalista would be proud of. Other recent complimentary entertainment has included a "girls' night in" with massage and pedicures at a fraction of the cost of a spa visit; a trip to Ras Al Khor's wildlife reserve to spy on flamingos (strangely riveting); a Movies Under the Stars double-bill at WAFI; a board games extravaganza that only cost as much as a bag of Haribo sweets to keep energy levels high, and a day trip to Wild Wadi courtesy of a two-for-one voucher found in the Entertainer guide.
OK, so there was none of the usual high-end mall trawling, dining in heart-attack-inducing restaurants or taking to the high seas on a 150 foot yacht, but frugalistas can't afford to be fussy. I do think, however that I've proved we can afford to have fun. Staying entertained in the face of a financial crisis doesn't have to break the bank. It just needs creativity and imagination. So with that, I'm sticking on my thinking cap and conjuring up some more ways to take advantage of life in Dubai on the cheap.